Sumo Strength Water, Strength Paper, and Salt



What is strength water?

Water symbolizes purification. Rikishi must rinse out their mouths to purify themselves before stepping into the sacred ring. It is also called “purification water” or “facial lotion,” and drinking it symbolizes willingness to fight to the death.

Can anyone serve strength water?

It is usually served by the winner of the previous bout. Losers are not allowed to serve. If neither a winner nor a personal attendant is available, it is served by a yobidashi.

Can any rikishi, regardless of rank, serve strength water?

As a rule, a rikishi must be juryo rank or over to serve water. Water is often served for the top makushita rikishi, too, but usually because there is enough time or in order to fill in extra time. It may be left out if the juryo bouts cannot start on time. The water and salt appear to be inseparable. When water is served, rikishi fling salt. When there is no water, there is no salt, either. The two were approved for use by makushita rikishi before the July 1962 tournament.

力水

What is “strength paper”?

This is the paper that is used to wipe the mouth, face and body in order to further purify it after receiving strength water. A sheet of calligraphy paper is cut in half and then folded twice.

What is the meaning of the salt?

It is a prayer to the gods to purify the ring from evil spirits and protect the rikishi from injury. It is called “purification salt,” “strength salt,” and “flower of the waves.” It also disinfects cuts.

Must a rikishi toss salt into the ring?

As a rule, rikishi toss salt every time they meet their opponent at the face-off lines. But only juryo and higher ranks are allowed to do it. Sometimes top makushita rikishi get a chance if there is enough time in the schedule.



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